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Keeping Cool with Summer Compression

It's officially summer and the temperatures are rising. Most people are excited for the warm summer days, but those who need to wear compression garments to manage their health may dread the hot summer days ahead. For those needing to wear compression 23/24 hours a day, it's essential to find ways to cope with the heat.

Summer temperatures have the potential to make anyone swell but for those with certain health needs, like lymphedema, lipedema, or chronic venous insufficiency, it will make their swelling worse. This is because heat increases blood flow which in turn increases the amount of tissue fluid produced thus the lymphatic system must work even harder to clear the extra accumulated fluid. So, as tempting as it may be to remove your compression garment, try not to as your swelling may get worse.

Here are 10 helpful tips to beat the heat while wearing compression in the summer:

  1. Type of compression garment MATTERS! Discuss the type of compression garment you are wearing with your healthcare professional to see if there is an alternative that may help you cope better in the heat.

  2. Ensure your compression garment is at an optimal strength. It will then provide adequate pressure and work better for you when the temperatures warm-up increasing the amount of fluid in the tissues.

  3. Wearing compression 23/24 hours is key. During the day is considered to be the mainstay of treatment (being active and moving ensures the compression garment is working at its best) however, on particularly super-hot days if you really find it intolerable, you could maybe try compression specifically designed to wear at nighttime and stay indoors during the day. However, please speak to your healthcare professional first before changing any aspect of your lymphedema treatment.

  4. Try putting your spare garment in a plastic bag in the fridge (or for a short period in the freezer) prior to application, as this may assist in keeping your limb cooler for longer.

  5. You may find it cooling to spray cold water onto the compression garment periodically throughout the day (fill a small spray bottle) or alternatively, remove your garment and put your limb under a cool tap or shower. Maybe consider cooling off your affected area with a cool and cooler shower or bath.

  6. Sprinkle baby powder or cornstarch on your skin (make sure it's 100% talc free) before putting on your compression. This will take any moisture out of your skin so it's easier to slide them on.

  7. Always use donning or rubber gloves (preferably with a rubber texture on the palm and fingers - gardening gloves are a real hit) to help pull your compression garments up & move the fabric around. I find this especially helpful when your skin can be a bit sticky or if you're experiencing a little excess swelling from the summer heat.

  8. Functional fashion - Think about what clothing you wear over the top of your compression garment. Clothing should be light, loose and non-constricting, especially around the waist, under the breasts, and at the wrists/armpit/ankles. Loose cotton material is likely to be more comfortable as this allows movement of air between the garment and the clothes, and the cotton of course absorbs any sweat that may pass through. Linen is also known to be lightweight and breathable. White or light-colored clothing is also recommended as this reflects the sun’s rays and keeps you cooler; black or dark colored clothing retains the heat and makes you feel hotter.

  9. Look after your skin! Fungal infections between the toes are more common in the hot weather. Toes maybe more swollen than usual and become hot and sweaty making it a lovely environment for such infections. Observe the skin closely and use anti-fungal powder if you develop Athlete’s foot for example. Alternatively, tea tree oil is sometimes recommended as a precaution (always make sure it's blended with a safe carrier oil).

  10. And lastly, my personal fav - Consider increasing your days at the pool or ocean! You can set those compression garments to the side because when you are in water it will provide that natural gradient compression. And as always make sure to use sunblock while swimming or doing water aerobics!

Well, those are my top 10 tips and tricks on staying cool while wearing compression in summer! Go ahead - try them out and let me know which one works best for you!

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